Ontario NDP member Peter Kormos, now a backbencher, has a reputation for being Premier Bob Rae’s greatest nemesis on many issues, the most notorious being no-fault auto insurance and Sunday shopping. Some believe he will successfully run for leader of the NDP when Rae steps aside to enter the federal scene.
In an informal interview with Kormos, the Interim’s Frank Kennedy tries to get some insight as to how the potential NDP leader would act on the issues which interest readers.
I brought a couple of “Kormos for Premier” buttons from my vanishing collection along to the interview with Peter, and his secretary was so delighted that she wanted to pin one on Peter as soon as he entered the office. She went as far as to jokingly suggest that Peter pose with the button standing beside Bob Rae! Peter, amused, rejected the idea until I suggested that Peter pose with the Premier and cover up the button until just before the cameras flashed. We all laughed, but I’m afraid that’s as far as the idea went.
Peter was willing to give me an exclusive interview as long as I didn’t mention abortion. I reluctantly agreed. But Peter brought it up himself when he mentioned several NDP caucus members who were allegedly pro-life – I hope they’re not offended: former cabinet minister Mike Farnan, who was dismissed from cabinet for trivial reasons and Shelly Martel, who should have been dismissed from cabinet for major reasons. So, I felt the deal was odd and we openly discussed abortion.
Another Catholic politician
His parish priest, Father C. Dachuk of the Welland Greek Catholic Church St. Michael the Archangel, has known Kormos quite well for 7-8 years but has never discussed abortion with him. Kormos confirmed this. (Do you wonder why the pro-life movement is in trouble?) Father mentioned Kormos’ helping refugees from Honduras, El Salvador and Argentina, referring them to sources who could assist them.
Father Dachuk also said that Peter carried the icon of the Nativity up the aisle at mass on Christmas Eve. He declined to discuss his religious practice further. Fr. Dachuk also said that people didn’t just vote NDP in this riding – they voted for the man – in this case Kormos. When I jokingly told him about the “Kormos for Premier” buttons, he said that a lot of Wellanders today would gladly wear those buttons.
Kormos proudly claims to be a Catholic, but goes along with the feminist-dominated NDP and its enthusiastically pro-abortion and secular stance. He finds no problem with the way the party toadies up to the feminist goals and fallacies and sees nothing wrong with promoting “sexual orientation,” a buzzword veering up the immoral practices of active lesbians and homosexuals. Is Peter Kormos a contradiction or the “typical” Catholic politician? A “typical” Catholic politician, they say, is a person who believes in God but is afraid to hurt the Devil’s feelings. I think Kormos is typical.
A longer in the caucus
Yet Kormos, almost alone in the NDP caucus, is not afraid to take stands contrary to party positions. And he has paid dearly for it. He strongly disputes the NDP notion that Sunday shopping is going to bring us out of the recession and decrease cross-border shopping. He deplores the lack of a “common pause” day.
His party has been extremely ungrateful to him for his marathon talk-a-thon, his record-breaking filibuster, in the previous Ontario legislature when he attacked no-fault insurance. The NDP used Kormos’ position almost as an election plank to help get in, promising government-run auto insurance – which was abandoned a year later. Kormos says that the Liberal Party auto insurance was vastly superior to the NDP’s, which has since become law.
Kormos claims the NDP caucus has been “incredibly kind to him.” If this were true, why did Rae kick Kormos but not Martel (who admitted to lying) out of the cabinet? Why didn’t Martel end up languishing in the backbenches where Peter has been forced since his ruins with the Premier? (I waved to him from the press gallery and he waved back as I saw him wandering around the House sitting at any vacant seat he found or in the middle aisles talking to other NDP members.)
Rae made a big fuss about Kormos posing as a fully clothed Sunshine boy in the Toronto Sun newspaper to cover the fact that the pragmatic Rae was abandoning Kormos’ auto insurance package, because he couldn’t make it fly. Kormos, regarding the Sunshine boy episode, charitably says that they have more of a sense of humor in Welland. Regarding Marc Eliesen, the overpaid Ontario Hydro boss who left for greener pastures, Kormos said, “I know people who could do it for half the price.”
Does Peter Kormos have any political ambitions? Long range? Federal? He denied any political ambitions, as politicians are wont to do. However, it’s said that he has learned French, has cultivated a large core of old-time doctrinaire NDPers in the legislature (about a third of the House) and may be planning to run after the next election. A source from Welland described him as a “bit of an opportunist.”
Kormos hinted that Bob Rae still has strong federal aspirations – and, if federal NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin stumbles badly, Rae would jump to the federal scene. Who then would succeed Rae? Kormos? No, he said modestly, Frances Lankin. Now Lankin is another strong pro-abortionist in a party that is loaded with them. She could hardly wait to get the taxpayers’ chequebook out and offer to pay for Morgentaler’s burned-down Toronto abortuary.
Why, I wanted to know, was Peter known as a “loose canon”? Here was an articulate lawyer, a popular MPP and a man of strong convictions – the one politician who was more in demand in the previous election to address nomination meetings than Bob Rae himself. Why had the media labeled him a “maverick,” “bête noir” and “iconoclast”? “Some politicians,” he said, “feel that sycophancy is the way to reach stardom. I don’t agree with that.” He went on to say that many newly elected NDP MPPs only joined the party the night of the NDP convention and had no solid attachment to the party’s goals. As a result, the party has the reputation of waiting badly when it comes to political decision-making.
“Win, lose or draw I get what I want,” said Kormos. “We’re a family of achievers. The five kids in our family all have university educations. And I’m proud to say that we come from an immigrant Slovakian-Flemish working class background. We had to do it on our own – fighting all the way. I got kicked out of school when I was sixteen for being rebellious and I used to work at three jobs around the clock on occasions to pay for my university education. I admit that I couldn’t do it now.”
Kormos still wears his fancy tall western boots, no tie, and casual attire. His eyes sparkle as he sits in his Queen’s Park office gazing out the window at a lush park setting, a handsome, rough-hewn man. Obviously nobody has been able to put him on a leash.
He is still strongly against the NDP auto-insurance law that has fattened the insurance coffers. “It’s still a meat chart that denies any access to the court for the legitimate claims of many accident victims. If you’re attacked by a man with a baseball bat you’re lucky – you can sue – but don’t get attacked by a 4000-pound car. It’s just now that people are beginning to realize that the rights for the most seriously injured are being jeopardized.”
Kormos is the chairman of the committee presently shaping Ontario’s new labor laws, which will tilt the law wildly in favor of the worker and no doubt make investment in Ontario less attractive.
When I accused the NDP of being captives of the radical feminist movement’s agenda, which includes abortion, euthanasia, and the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle, he replied, “The women’s movement is a significant part of the community.” What he failed to mention was that his party only served the small, noisy, radical feminists – both inside and outside the legislature – and completely ignored the more moderate groups and individuals.
If he becomes premier, will Kormos follow the same feminist agenda? Or will he buck the system as he has in the past? Stephen Lewis’ twenty-five-year-old dream of abortion on demand has become a reality. With an unlikely coalition of Marxists, radical feminists, union leaders, and political wind-sniffers, joined by a man with strong labor ties who is a party of his own. Peter Kormos.